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Five Questions Answered In The Win Over The Arizona Cardinals


Running Back DeAndré Washington

Heading into the preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals, we highlighted five questions that we were looking forward to seeing play out at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The Silver and Black took care of business Friday night, beating the Cardinals 31-10, and although the game doesn't technically count to its record, it was an impressive performance by the team nonetheless.

With the game now squarely in the rearview mirror, let's take a look back, and see how those five questions were answered.

1. How much will the starters play?

Heading into the matchup with the Cardinals, the expectation was for the starters to play a few series before vacating the field for the evening, and that's exactly how it unfolded Friday night.

Quarterback Derek Carr and a majority of the first-team offense played two series, resulting in three points for the Raiders, before their abbreviated night ended.

"It felt good to just throw against someone else," said Carr postgame. "It felt good to play real football, not with a red jersey on. It's always good to get out there, and obviously, we need to be cleaner. This is year three for me and there is no excuse for those kinds of things. I take that stuff personal. We have to make sure we are cleaner on the pre-snap stuff. That stuff can't happen."

On the other side of the football, defensive end Khalil Mack, linebacker Bruce Irvin and the rest of the starting defensive unit saw similar action, playing just a handful of series before heading to the sideline for the rest of the evening.

2. Will Karl Joseph hit the field?

After some uncertainty regarding Joseph's status for the first preseason game, the rookie safety started Friday's tilt with the Cardinals, playing a total of nine defensive snaps before his evening ended.

He ended the game with one total tackle, but more importantly, he was able to get his first game action since last October under his belt.

"It felt good," said Joseph. "That was the plan. [Head] Coach Jack [Del Rio], me and him spoke about it. I felt good pregame, so I was ready to ball. They decided to put me in, and I was just happy, man. It felt good. I haven't actually played in a long time. Just getting back out there felt good; it felt real good."

The West Virginia-product's debut went well, so I expect to see him get a little more of an extended run Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers.

3. After Latavius Murray, what is the state of the run game?

Admittedly, it's now been just one *preseason *game, but all in all, you'd have to say that the run game, top to bottom, looked pretty healthy.

Undrafted rookie running back Jalen Richard wasn't able to suit up and hit the field Friday night, but the other running backs behind Murray put together an impressive performance, as the Silver and Black finished the game with 166 total rushing yards.

After Murray's work was done for the evening, rookie running back DeAndré Washington got first crack at handling the rushing duties, and looked good too, carrying the ball five times for 42 yards, and also adding one catch for 32 yards.

However, as solid as Washington was, George Atkinson III was the player who stole the show on the ground Friday night.

Atkinson ran the ball just five times, but finished the game with an impressive 97 yards and two touchdowns.

Head Coach Jack Del Rio also lauded No. 34 for his work on special teams, so all in all, it would be hard to ask for a better preseason debut for a young player trying to make the final roster.

4. How will Connor Cook perform?

All in all, the rookie quarterback performed well in his first game as an Oakland Raider.

Cook played 20 offensive snaps in Friday's win over the Cardinals, completing 7 of 11 passes for 71 total yards, and while it wasn't a perfect showing, the former Michigan State Spartan seemed to grow more comfortable as the game went on.

"I knew what I was getting myself into," Cook said. "It was just a great overall effort by the ones, twos and threes offensively and defensively."

After a somewhat sluggish start to his first training camp, Cook has really come on as of late, and Friday's effort in the desert was another step in the right direction for him.

5. Which under-the-radar player will make an impression?

On the offensive side of the football this one's easy; although he only played 14 offensive snaps, George Atkinson III was outstanding Friday night, showing off his trademark speed, as well an ability to gain tough yards, en route to a 97-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Cardinals defense.

Defensively for the Silver and Black, rookie linebacker Cory James played well, finishing the day with five total tackles and one tackle for loss in his first extended run of the preseason.

Both Atkinson and James delivered quality preseason openers, now hopefully they'll be able to build on those efforts Thursday night at Lambeau Field.

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